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Popular demand the decisive factor, Minnesota green pricing

Green pricing--with plans for wind plant included--is going ahead in the US for more than 76,000 customers of an electric co-operative in Minnesota. Dakota Electric Association of Farmington, along with its wholesale supplier Cooperative Power of Eden Prairie, were given the go-ahead by state regulators to offer the scheme immediately to customers in 100 kWh blocks with a 12 month commitment.

Green pricing -- with plans for wind plant included -- is going ahead in the US for more than 76,000 customers of an electric co-operative in Minnesota. Dakota Electric Association of Farmington, along with its wholesale supplier Cooperative Power of Eden Prairie, were given the go-ahead by state regulators on April 10 to offer the scheme immediately to customers in 100 kWh blocks with a 12 month commitment. Dakota Electric is the state's second largest electric co-operative.

"What is innovative is that the costs for the wind generation are only incurred by those consumers who are interested in participating; it will be implemented only for those who want it," says Nathan Huso, the co-operative's marketing supervisor. "Our surveys have shown that a significant number of consumers are willing to pay for the benefits of energy from renewable resources."

Customers will be able to buy wind power for a premium of some $3-$4 per 100 kWh block monthly. It is Minnesota's first green pricing programme, although nine other co-operatives served by Cooperative Power are already planning to offer the same choice. As recently as February, only four had expressed interest (Windpower Monthly, March 1997).

PEOPLE POWER

Subscription campaigns at Dakota Electric and the other participating co-operatives are to be conducted until mid July. Cooperative Power will then determine the total load requirement and contract with a wind company to build a wind farm. The project is expected to be built in southwestern Minnesota with likely completion in the first quarter of 1998. "The actual number of wind generators we construct will be determined by the number of customers who sign up and by how much energy they wish to purchase, so we hope the subscription campaigns are a big success with consumers," says Will Kaul, Cooperative Power's director of generation and transmission services.

"This project is exciting because it has so many positives," says Kaul. "Not only are we providing a product that consumers want and one that is beneficial to the environment, but one that will also create economic development opportunities in rural Minnesota through the purchase of the wind crop from farmers, to the project construction and ongoing maintenance of a wind generation facility."

The other interested co-operatives are: Federated Rural Electric Association, Jackson; Frost-BENCO-Wells Electric, Mankato; McLeod Cooperative Power Association, Glencoe; Meeker Cooperative Light & Power Association, Litchfield; Minnesota Valley Electric Cooperative, Jordan; Nobles Cooperative Electric, Worthington; Runestone Electric Association, Alexandria; Stearns Cooperative Electric Association, Melrose; and Goodhue County Cooperative in Zumbrota.

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